MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’re a year into MNsure. The largest and cheapest carrier is out, the rates are going up and critics continue to call it a failure. What could this mean for the midterm elections?

No matter how you feel about MNSure, it has provided for a lot of back and forth between the candidates this election season. Republicans remain against the exchange.

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In a recent gubernatorial debate, Republican governor candidate Jeff Johnson blasted Gov. Mark Dayton for implementing MNSure in the first place. His main sticking point is the cost.

“We saw rates go up after MNSure, and we’re going to see them spike next year. The Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters said the increases for next year within MNSure are going to be between eight percent and 42 percent, so the fact that you keep saying we’re the lowest and it’s four and half percent? I think everyone here has found that that number is truly bogus,” Johnson said.

Gov. Dayton is continuing to defend MNSure, while at the same time admitting it’s a work in progress.

“MNSure is going to get better. It’s going to be better this next rollout. We still have the lowest rates of any state in the nation. That’s something to build upon, not to tear down,” Dayton said.

Health care exchanges like MNSure — an extension of the Affordable Care Act, are a hot topic even at the federal level. During a debate with Sen. Al Franken, Republican challenger Mike McFadden called it a train wreck that is based on lies.

“The biggest lie of all is that it will cost less. President Obama has said repeatedly that it will lower the average cost of insurance for a family by $2,500. That is a lie. That will not happen,” McFadden said.

Senator Franken is calling critics like McFadden who want to scrap MNSure altogether short-sighted.

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“It goes back to square one, and it goes back to a divided Congress, and all of this goes away,” Franken said.

Despite the political football MnSure has become, Board Chair Brian Buettner said business is booming.

“Over 300,000 Minnesotans have used that marketplace to find an insurance plan that fits their needs. That’s a success,” Buettner said.

Health care expert Dave Racer said success depends on how you look at it.

“Eighty three percent are on government programs, and some would count that as a great success. It does not take into account the quality of those programs and what it actually means in terms of access. That’s a whole different issue,” Racer said.

According to the Department of Health, 95 percent of all eligible Minnesotans are now covered by some sort of an insurance plan. That number is up slightly from last year, when just under 92 percent of Minnesotans — roughly 445,000 people — had some sort of insurance.

In the big picture however, Racer doesn’t think MNSure and its increasing rates, will have a major effect on the elections — at least not this year.

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“It takes a lot to move the voters. Generally, if they feel threatened or great fear, then they’ll vote what they call a wave election. They’ll take the other party and give them a chance. I’m not sure that they’ve felt the pain yet,” Racer said.